Friday, December 31, 2010

Final List of New Year's Resolutions - Here we GO!

1. Lose some weight, get lean (130 is the goal)
2. Go vegan
3. Half marathon challenge - run (and/or walk) at least 13.1 miles a day, everyday for 365 days straight. Can split up run when necessary
4. Run at least one 30 mile long run every other week
5. Do 50 crunches a day, everday
6. No more drinking
7. Complain less
8. Sign up for, run, and complete at least three 100 mile races this year (Leadville, Rocky Raccoon and a third)
9. Get published in Ultrarunning Magazine and/or Trail Running Magazine and/or Marathon & Beyond Magazine
10. Write at least 15 posts per month on my blog
11. Run the length of the Grand Canyon over spring break R2R2R (Negotiable due to lack of money. Leadville takes priority)
12. Document food intake on iPad food counter on a daily basis
13. Document run progress on blog on a daily basis
14. Document food intake on blog on a weekly basis
15. Document run progress on blog on a weekly basis

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More New Year's Resolutions

As New Year's Eve draws closer, I am still finalizing my list of resolutions for 2011. I think I have come up with a manageable list. I think all fo these things are doable. Here they are:

1. Lose some weight - first order of business, and I'm getting started now. Over the period of law school final exams, due to poor eating habits and low activity level, I put on about ten pounds. I need to get back to my racing weight. This will entail cutting back a little on the calorie intake, basically.

2. Finish at least three 100 milers - Self-explanatory. (Related, see #4 and #5)

3. Finish Rocky Raccoon 100 - I DNF'd this course last year, mostly because I was totally unprepared for the 100-miler mentally. But, now that I know what running 100 miles entails, I think I have the mental fortitude to finish.

4. Sign up for, run, and finish Leadville 100 - this is the year I want to make some definite strides towards Badwater. Leadville is a part of that progress. I can't say for sure what piqued my interest in Leadville; all I know is that I have my heart set on it, and I can feel that it is going to happen.

5. Go vegan - this is the big one. I have been thinking about this for a long time, ever since my friend explained vegetarianism to me back in Austin about 6 years ago. In the past year, I have done a lot of research on veganism and the benefits of a vegan diet and I think it will be good for me. I am very excitied about this one.

7. Get published - I plan to write a lot more for this blog and hopefully my writing will get picked up by Ultrarunning Magazine or Marathon & Beyond or Trail Runner Magazine. I have already made some definite progress dowards this goal. My story on Lisa Smith-Batchen's run across America got picked up by Marathon & Beyond and will be published in the July/August issue!

8. Do R2R2R - I really want to run the Grand Canyon. However, this resolution is negotiable. Money-permitting, I will do my best to make it happen during Spring Break (mid-March). However, Leadville expenses will take priority.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Ultrarunner's New Year's Resolution (or, Quit Your Bitchin'!)

It's about that time of year when you start reflecting on the past and planning for the future. As the year draws to a close, I find myself running over in my mind all the things I did, both good and bad. I remember fondly my triumphs and I try to learn from my downfalls. It's time to formulate New Year's resolutions.

New Year's resolutions are helpful because they reinforce the possibility of change, the promise of a better tomorrow. They are psychological tools that allow you to realize change is within your grasp. What can I do (or not do) to alter the course of my life for the better? If nothing else, they imply a positive attitude.

So what is my New Year's resolution? I was looking back at some of my Facebook status updates and noticed an alarming trend:
"Law school suuuucks."
"I hate law school."
"This sucks."
"Kill me."
"I feel like crap."
"I am fat."
"I hate studying."
"Is this really my life?"
I am somewhat ashamed to read back on these posts. It would appear I have become quite a negative person. It never occured to me that I complain so much. Did it do any good? Probably not. If anything, it made me feel worse. Things are hard enough already without being so negative and cynical. So why complain about that which you cannot change? There really is no point. And there's no honor in it.

Allow me to digress for a moment and tell you some personal information. This summer, my dad went into the hospital and stayed there for about two months. He had to have his leg amputated due to complications from his diabetes. Every day, my mom, my sister, and I would go see him. There was a time when things were not looking good. The doctors thought he was dying. He developed a bad infection on his leg. He was running a fever. He was delirious. The doctors were doing all they could. All we could do here at home was pray.

Eventually, my dad did get better. The infection went away and the fever subsided. But, my dad had lost his leg. When he came home from the hospital, he had to adapt. Confined to wheelchair, he had to make his way around using what he had. Then, one day, the doctors were able to get him a prosthetic leg.

It was very difficult getting used to the prosthesis, like learning to walk all over again. In fact, he is still getting used to it. He has lost his balance and fallen down. The phsyical therapy is helping. He is getting stronger every day. I have full confidence that soon he will be up and about like nothing.

Why do I tell you this? Well, in all the days, weeks, months, that my dad spent in the hospital, after all the pain and heartache, through the misery and hell of losing a limb, not once did I ever hear my dad complain. Not once did I ever hear him curse or grumble. Not once did I ever him lament his situation.

It would have been easy to throw in the towel, whimper and whine into a corner, get bitter. What he went through - is still going through - sucks. It really does. Life, sometimes, is a bitch, and it fucking blows. You get hurt. You feel angry. I don't deserve this. This wasn't supposed to happen to me. But, you have to move through it. You don't get over it, you move through it. Anger is just not a very useful emotion in the long-run. The most it will get you is a few quick spurts of energy and then you are back where you started. Optimism and hope are much more productive, long-lasting emotions.

In the end, you do the best you can and you try to enjoy the little things.

These days, my dad laughs all the time. He listens to good music (some Charlie Parker or Miles Davis on the stereo), eats good food, and smiles big. He is enjoying life.

I want to be like him.

I want to enjoy life. I want to realize my blessings and savor them. How can I do that if I am always complaining, always seeing the bad side of things instead of the good?

So here it is, my New Year's resolution for 2011: I, Gerard Martinez, hereby promise to focus on the good things in life instead of the bad, to stay positive and hopeful even when the world around me is crumbling to pieces; I promise to be joyful, to count my blessings and be forever grateful for the gift of life; I promise to enjoy this life to the fullest because it is precious and you only get one shot at it.

Happy New Year's and happy running!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm baaaaaaack!

Now that finals are over, I can get back to writing on here on a more regular basis. Suddenly, the world seems so full of possibilities and options! In fact, I just may make that the theme of the month: options and possibilities, possibilities and options!

Speaking of possibilities, I have been working on my racing plans for the upcoming year. I am definitely doing Rocky Raccoon 100. I also want to sign up for - are you ready? - Leadville 100. Really want to do Cactus Rose 100 again. But, I need something to do for Spring Break. I was thinking of going out to the Grand Canyon and doing R2R2R. I hear it is a very spiritual run.

Lot's of good stuff coming up on the blog. I have some fun stories I am working on, including the continuation of the story of Lisa Smith-Batchen's 2500 mile run through America. I also have some interviews with other runners coming up.

I am happy to announce that my interview with Lisa Smith-Batchen is being published by Marathon & Beyond Magazine in the August edition. Far off, but hey, it's something! Also, The Running Review chosen to publish the story on their website. It's nice to have some readers.

In keeping with the theme of options and possibilities, I have added a fun little poll on here. It is on the left-hand side of the screen. So, you are 75 miles into a 100 mile race. What do you grab at the next aid station? Click on your preference and let's see what the results are.

Stay tuned for more content, and happy running!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Break Out the Happy Pills!

I haven't updated my blog in a few days and the reason for that is I am facing a barrage of hellish ordeals otherwise known as law school final exams. Apart from being totally consumed by boring old tests, bad stuff just seems to be happening to me lately. I have succumbed to illness (a sore throat); money is ridiculously scarce; my car broke down on me in the middle of the highway and I had to have it towed; my knee is still acting up from the 100 miler I ran (but did not finish) on October 30; I have had little time to run at all; I feel like I'm getting fat, fatter, FATTEST; and a bird pooped on me the other day (I am told it is a good luck sign, but I have my doubts). These are dark days indeed my friends.

It is so important to maintain a sense of humor during these periods of despair. But what do you do when you cannot muster up the positive energy to laugh and be cheery? I have always joked with friends that I wanted to find some happy pills - magical medicine that I could down in a gulp and instantly feel better!

So yesterday, I was walking back to my apartment (no car here, remember?) and I passed Smoothie King. I had never been to a Smoothie King before. A nice cold, fruity-sweet concoction sounded like just the ticket. As I was browsing their nutrition supplements, my eyes fell upon what I can only describe as an omen. Days before, I told my friend on the phone that I wanted some happy pills. What did I see on the shelves of Smoothie King but actual, literal Happy Pills?! That is what they are called: Happy Pills, the Non-Prescription Feel Good Formula. The package is yellow and covered with little smiley faces. How great is that? I was sold before I even read the details: "feel better now: higher energy level, increased sense of wellbeing, weight loss, and no artificial colors or flavorings." Excellent.

They are put out by a company called Brain Pharma. Caffine and St. John's Wort seem to be the active ingredients. It's nothing really special, just your average supplement that you might find in a grocery store or gas station, right next to the ginkgo biloba and caffine pills. The name is what gets me. How funny that I found, at long last, my precious, hypothetical-until-now "happy pills."

So, I urge you, if you are struggling to stay positive, to find your own "happy pills." That doesn't mean you have to get a silly dietary supplement. Your happy pills can be in the form of running, or reading a good book, or watching a funny movie, or spending time with family or your special someone. Just find the humor in life, find the light, and ride out the dark times. The bad stuff will pass. All is well!

Here is a good song to help put you in the right mood!

And another:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review of "127 Hours"

If you've read "Born to Run," you will remember that Aron Ralston was given free admission to the Leadville 100 in 2004. Race co-founder Ken Chlouber offered Aron the chance to do Leadville, a very tough mountain race, without paying the entry fee. This baffled some people: everyone paid the entry fee. Even the defending champ paid. Why special treatment for Aron? "He is the essence of Leadville," Chlouber responded. After watching "127 Hours," you see what he meant.

You no doubt heard the story in the news back in 2003 when a hiker in Utah cut off his own arm to save his life after being pinned in a canyon by a fallen boulder and trapped for 5 days. That ordeal is chronicled here. For a majority of the film, we are stuck down in that canyon with Aron. We witness his slow deterioration: desolation, starvation, dehydration.

And yet, this is not a difficult film to watch, not even when Aron eventually cuts off his own arm with a cheap, rusty pocket knife. It is a very entertaining film. It exists in the moment. We are right there with Aron as he analyzes the absurdity of his situation and the stupidity of his decision to not tell anyone where he was going.

He isn't glorified as a hero. He is just a guy who did what he had to do to live. The will to survive is incredible. Humans are wired to cling to life at all costs. Not everyone gets to explore this base, primal survival instinct.

Could you cut off your arm to survive?

What Aron did was really something. He tapped into a part of his nature that few people ever explore for themselves, and yet, I suspect most people have the inner strength to do just what he did.

What director Danny Boyle has done here is create a visceral experience. The story is simple, but the emotions that carry us through the story are lasting and real. The movie becomes profound.